Fighting license proliferation at its core: Mighty and Beastie Licenses

Chris Zumbrunn chris at
Mon Sep 12 09:21:10 UTC 2005

On Sep 10, 2005, at 10:26 PM, Chris Zumbrunn wrote:

> In a perfect world, I think open source software would just
> contain the copyright notices in the source code, specifying the
> license that applies to that code, but the license itself would not
> contain any direct references to that project, copyright holder or
> contributor. Instead, the license would refer back to the
> copyright notice that referenced the license.
> If in addition to the different conditions, licenses also have
> different grants and different warranty disclaimers, the troubles
> starts to develop to the scope that has been identified as a
> concern regarding license proliferation.

The GPL already fulfills these requirements for projects that want
to choose a strong-copyleft license. With the AFL and OSL
there would also be such alternatives for projects that prefer a
BSD-ish or a copyleft license, but most projects continue to use
the less verbose MIT and BSD-esque licenses. Why?

The problem is likely one of "marketing" and one of a preference
for the non-verboseness of the traditional licenses like I described
in my previous message. The best way to overcome the marketing
problem would be to rename the AFL to "Beastie License 3.0" or
even BSD 3.0. This might have a surprising effect in the developer
community and could trigger a much wider adaption of the new

Larry, do you agree that "verboseness" and "marketing" are the two
factors that are slowing down AFL and OSL adaption?

What is better for the open source community and the courts?
Verbose or non-verbose licenses?


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